8 Top Dog-Friendly Walks near Wollongong

If you live in Wollongong or are visiting the region with your dog, unfortunately the options for bushwalking with your dog are limited. The majority of the beautiful escarpment that runs behind the city is contained in the Illawarra Escarpment State Conservation Area, where pets are not permitted. However, there’s still plenty of other dog-friendly walks in the Wollongong region.

For starters, there’s the extensive shared pathway that runs along the region’s coastline, including between Thirroul, about 15km north of Wollongong, and Wollongong Harbour. Along the way it passes many of the dog-friendly beaches of Wollongong, with great options for coastal walks.

There are plans to construct an entire network of walking and bike tracks linking the Royal National Park and Lake Illawarra, dubbed the Grand Pacific Walk. Some parts have already been completed, along with colourful signage and drinking fountains for humans and pups.

I’ve also dug up some other short bushwalks in the region that you can do with your dog. So the next time you’re looking to go walking somewhere different with your dog, tick off one of these dog-friendly walks near Wollongong.

Dog-friendly walks Wollongong

#1 Puckeys Estate and Beach Loop

Distance: 3.1km loop
Difficulty: Easy-medium (Flat, but includes beach walking)
On-leash in the reserve, off-leash along the beach

The centrally located Puckeys Estate is just north of the centre of Wollongong, but it’s a fabulous spot to head for a dog-friendly walk through both the bush and along the beach.

This nature reserve just north of Stuart Park in North Wollongong contains a rare remnant of littoral rainforest, along with coastal dunes and a lagoon. With dogs allowed on-leash in the reserve and the adjacent beach allowing off-leash dogs, it’s the perfect spot for a bush walk with your pup.

Puckeys Estate Nature Reserve Sign
Go bushwalking with your dog at Puckeys Estate near Wollongong

Park up at Fairy Meadow Beach Park, where it’s generally easiest to find a parking spot. Then follow the 1.5km walking track that passes through the reserve, ending on Squires Way, near Stuart Park. It’s a flat and largely shady walk through the bush reserve, suitable for all but the hottest days of summer.

At the southern end of the track, just before the bridge over the lagoon, instead of continuing to Squires Way instead turn left towards the beach. While dogs are not allowed at the lagoon on the edge of Stuart Park, follow the sign for the dogs allowed section of beach, past the former homestead.

Dogs are allowed off-leash between the track onto the beach and your starting point at Fairy Meadow Beach Park. Let your dog enjoy running free on the sand and getting their feet wet. It’s about 1.5km along the beach back to your starting point.

Dogs Allowed Puckeys Beach
Then walk off-leash back along Puckeys Beach

#2 Blue Mile Pathway

Distance: 3.4km return
Difficulty: Easy (Paved and flat)
On-leash the entire length

For a more bustling walk with your pup, head closer to the centre of Wollongong and enjoy a stroll along the Blue Mile. This popular paved shared pathway links Stuart Park on the northern side of Wollongong with Wollongong Golf Club, along the way passing Belmore Basin and Flagstaff Hill.

Lighthouse in Wollongong
One of the two lighthouses in Wollongong

Dogs are allowed on a leash along the length of the pathway. Just note that all of the beaches that you pass along, including North Wollongong Beach, Harbour Beach and City Beach prohibit dogs from the sand at all times.

For a longer walk, detour up to Flagstaff Hill and check out the two lighthouses, or enjoy a picnic on the grass. There’s also multiple dog-friendly cafes along the way, including the trendy Diggies at North Beach and the Illawarra Brewery at the southern end of the path.

Diggies North Wollongong
Diggies at North Wollongong has some dog-friendly tables

It’s possible to start the walk from either end or along the way. Just note that parking can be difficult on sunny weekends.

#3 Sea Cliff Bridge Walk

Distance: 1.4km return
Difficulty: Easy (Paved and flat)
On-leash the entire length

One of the most famous landmarks in Wollongong is the Sea Cliff Bridge, linking the northern suburbs of Clifton and Coalcliff. Rather than just drive across the bridge, it’s also a fabulous spot to stop and enjoy a short but scenic walk.

There’s no restrictions on dogs walking across the bridge, although perhaps skip this walk with dogs that are wary of heights or traffic noise. Stop and park at one of the parking spots immediately south of the bridge. Otherwise else a small car park up the hill in Clifton, plus more on-street parking in Coalcliff.

Walk on Sea Cliff Bridge with dog
Walk across the Sea Cliff Bridge with your dog

This walk is best done on cooler days, as there’s no shade while walking across the bridge except for in the late afternoon. At the northern end of the bridge, it’s possible to extend your walk by following the gravel path down underneath it, although keep dogs off the rock platforms. You can also continue walking along the footpath to the north or south of the bridge.

Underneath Sea Cliff Bridge with Dog
Looking up at the Sea Cliff Bridge from underneath

#4 McCauley’s Dog Beach Loop

Distance: 1.9km loop
Difficulty: Easy-medium (Partially paved, partially beach walk)
Off-leash along the beach, on-leash along the path

One of the most popular dog beaches in the northern suburbs of Wollongong is McCauley’s Beach, which allows off-leash dogs all day long and often has a small lagoon. A walk along the beach and the adjacent shared pathway makes for a great outing with your pup.

Dog on McCauley's Beach, Thirroul
Checking out the surf at the off-leash McCauley’s Beach

The best spot to park for this walk is at Sandon Point, where there is a large carpark. There is only limited parking at the northern end, along Corbett Avenue in Thirroul.

Follow the pathway from the carpark until you can head down onto the sand, keeping your dog on a leash until you reach the beach. Also note that the extensive rock platforms at Sandon Point are out of bounds for pups – keep your pup on the sand.

It’s about a 500m stroll north along the beach until the end of the off-leash area, with plenty of time to paddle and play with other pups along the way. Head up onto the reserve next to Corbett Avenue, where there’s a handy beach shower and usually a dog bowl.

From the reserve, take the bridge over the creek and walk back south to your starting point along the shared pathway, that meanders inland through stands of banksia scrub and the Sandon Point Aboriginal Place. It’s about 1.1km to the Sandon Point carpark and enough time to dry off from the beach adventures.

McCauleys Beach Shared Pathway
Head back along the shared pathway to Sandon Point

#5 East Corrimal Dog Beach Loop

Distance: 3.2km
Difficulty: Easy-medium (Partially paved, partially beach walk)
Off-leash along the beach, on-leash along the path

McCauley’s Beach isn’t the only off-leash beach adjacent to the Grand Pacific Walk that makes for a great dog-friendly coastal walk around Wollongong. Head a few suburbs south to East Corrimal and the off-leash East Corrimal Dog Beach.

East Corrimal Beach with Dog
Off-leash at the northern end of East Corrimal Dog Beach

This longer beach extends for about 1km from north to south, between Bellambi Boat Ramp carpark and Bellambi Lagoon, near Corrimal Beach Tourist Park. The easiest spot to park is the large carpark at Bellambi Boat Ramp, although there’s also a carpark at the southern end.

If starting at the boat ramp, the best spot for pups to enjoy a paddle is at the northern end of the beach before you round Bellambi Point. Thanks to the rock platforms the water is calmer, although dogs need to stay off the actual rock platforms. Once you round the point, the water tends to be rougher.

East Corrimal Beach Looking South
Looking south along East Corrimal Beach

It’s about a 1km long walk along the southeast facing beach, which is generally fairly quiet. The beach lies in front of a bushland reserve, largely undeveloped except for a wastewater treatment plant, meaning there are no nearby roads for dogs to run onto.

Just before you reach the Bellambi Lagoon, a sign indicates the end of the off-leash area and the start of the “public access” area, where dogs need to be on leash. Continue around the lagoon and onto the shared pathway behind the beach.

Grand Pacific Walk at East Corrimal Beach
The Grand Pacific Walk at East Corrimal Beach

The pathway loops behind Bellambi Lake through a wetlands area. After 1.5km it rejoins the coast just before the Bellambi Rock Pool. Turn left towards Bellambi Boat Ramp and the carpark, with dogs also allowed off-leash on the sand along Bellambi Boat Harbour Beach, although be mindful of the nearby road.

#6 Perkins Beach Walk

Distance: Up to 8km return
Difficulty: Medium (Along the beach)
Off-leash along the beach

For an even longer beach walk with your pup around Wollongong, that is entirely off-leash, head south to Perkins Beach at Port Kembla. The southernmost and largest off-leash dog beach in the Wollongong area, the off-leash beach starts immediately south of the patrolled Port Kembla Beach and stretches south for over 4km to Windang Beach.

To access this beach, park in the carpark furthest from the road at Port Kembla Beach and then use the southernmost beach access point at the far end of the carpark. Once you reach the sand, dogs are allowed off-leash immediately to the right, but are not permitted anywhere north.

Perkins Beach Signs
The northern end of Perkins Beach

Alternatively, you can also access the southern end of Perkins Beach from Windang. The off-leash area ends approximately level with Murrie Street, where there is a carpark and pathway to the beach.

There’s also a few more paths running down to the beach, although it largely backs onto bushland reserve along its entire length. It’s a great spot for long off-leash walks as far as your pup wants to go, without the danger of cars nearby.

The beach is particularly great to visit at low tide. On the day we visited close to low tide, a very wide expanse of sand was exposed and the waves were fairly gentle.

Perkins Beach
Low tide at Perkins Beach

#7 Blackbutt Forest Reserve Loop

Distance: 4.3km loop
Difficulty: Easy-medium (Unpaved, but relatively flat)
On-leash the entire length

While most bushland reserves in the Wollongong area don’t allow dogs, on the southern side of Lake Illawarra there is a forest reserve that permits leashed dogs in much of it, Blackbutt Forest Reserve. This hilltop forest reserve contains patches of regenerated forest, along with wide grassy expanses, criss-crossed by multiple walking paths, fire trails and cycle paths.

Blackbutt Reserve Trail
Go bushwalking in Blackbutt Forest Reserve with your dog

Just note that dogs may be prohibited from some parts – I spotted one sign prohibiting dogs from a section near the Blackbutt Way Entrance, although the main signs don’t indicate the boundaries. The signposts for walking paths are also rather vague and limited.

Blackbutt Reserve Sign
Map of Blackbutt Forest Reserve at the Blackbutt Way Carpark

One dog-friendly walk that loops around much of the reserve is the Blackbutt Forest Reserve Loop. To follow this loop path, start from the Wattle Road Carpark. Continue along a mix of fire and walking trails, then the cycle path that extends to the eastern side of the reserve. Keep in mind dogs need to stay on a leash.

#8 Shellharbour Marina Promenade Walk

Distance: 5.0km return
Difficulty: Easy (Paved and flat)
On-leash the entire length

While much of the development around the Shellharbour Marina remains under construction, in 2021 the actual marina and an adjacent promenade walk opened, and it’s a great spot to head for a waterfront walk with your dog in Shellharbour.

Shell Cove Marina with Dog
Checking out the Shellharbour Marina

Dogs are welcome along the footpaths around the marina, including the promenade walk, just not in playgrounds and the Kids Beach next to the Town Centre. There’s even water fountains for both humans and dogs along the way.

Dog Walking Shell Cove Marina Promenade
Water fountains on the Promenade Walk at Shellharbour Marina

The promenade walk extends for 2.5km in total around the marina, including onto the breakwall on either side of the marina entrance. There’s multiple spots you can park and start the walk, with the Town Centre in the centre of the walkway one handy option.

Before or after I recommend enjoying lunch or a drink at the dog-friendly Georgia Rose at the Town Centre, with dogs permitted along the front of the semi-enclosed space.

Check out more tips for visiting Shellharbour with a dog

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About the Author

Photo of Shandos & Schnitzel

Shandos Cleaver is the founder of Travelnuity: Dog-Friendly Travel. She has travelled extensively with her Miniature Dachshund, Schnitzel, including to 33 countries across Europe, every state and territory of Australia except Tasmania, and 10 of the United States. She’s passionate about providing inspiration and information to others wanting to travel with their dogs, whether close to home or internationally.

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